blog by Visit Ventura
top image by Doug Mangum
Kayaking inside the dripping sea caves of Santa Cruz Island is like entering the innards of some great sleeping beast. Half-light and near darkness, the serene lullaby of moving water. It’s an odd and bewitching feeling, floating half-weightless in a throaty, dripping chamber, perhaps a bit like drifting inside Nature’s consummate organ as it plays the song of the sea. Sea lions lay slick, splendid and loud on a carpet of rocks.
You flick your flashlight and take it all in.
Freshwater seeps through cave walls, giving life to the colorful lichen and algae that give Painted Cave its name.
Santa Cruz Island boasts 77 miles of craggy coastline and the highest density of sea caves in the world, including Painted Cave, one of the largest and deepest sea caves in the world.
The cave is 160 feet tall and 1,300 feet deep– that’s nearly four football fields long.
There are multiple chambers, each narrower with less light, like descending into a beautiful puzzle.
Whether you’re hiking, diving, camping, or kayaking, Channel Islands National Park never ceases to supply the perfect escape. Island Packers will take you there. And first-rate outfitter Channel Islands Adventure Company will put you in the heart of the world’s largest sea cave.
A memory that will stay with you forever.
Conditions permitting, Channel Islands Adventure Company offers Painted Cave kayak tours in summer. But if you want a glimpse of Painted Cave, you don’t have to wait until then. Again, conditions permitting, Island Packers nudges their boats into the opening of Painted Cave. For a cavernous view.